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ACC auditor airs grievances of alleged intimidation by top county officials

Stephanie Maddox

By Joe Johnson

Athens-Clarke County Internal Auditor Stephanie Maddox on Tuesday explained why she filed a federal discrimination complaint against Mayor Kelly Girtz and County Manager Blaine Williams.

Maddox, who has headed the county's Operational Analysis Office since 2015 said to an audience at the county library that Girtz and Williams inimidated her after she filed state Open Recods Act requests for results of a compensation and pay study that was conducted in 2018.

She said the request was made in October, after receiving numerous complaints from county employees about their salaries in comparison with that of their peers.

Williams and Girtz allegedly confonted Maddox separately, questioning her about her request for the compensation and salary study. The mayor also issued a formal reprimand and a personal improvement plan in regards to perceived inadequacies with Maddox's job performance.

Maddox said the reaction by the high-ranking officials created a toxic work environment for her and so she filed the complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Tuesday's press conference at the Athens-Clarke County Library was sponsored by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, which recorded the event:

Maddox also filed a complaint with AADM, which on Friday issued the following press release:

“After looking further into the matter, AADM believes it is pertinent to bring this matter to the attention of the public for several reasons,” the AADM states in its release.

“As Internal Auditor, an essential part of Maddox’s duty is to review and investigate all accounts, departments, and operations in our local government to ensure the validity and legality of their financial records and activity,” the news release states. “However, Maddox has allegedly experienced retaliation and intimidation from colleagues and other ACC officials—specifically Mayor Girtz and Manager Williams—making it difficult to perform her duties and maintain accountability within our local government.

Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

Girtz said, “To maintain the integrity of an ongoing investigation, I do not have anything to provide at this time.”

A spokesman for the EEOC investigation said he could not comment on the matter.

“Under federal law, possible charges (complaints) made to the EEOC are strictly confidential, and we are prohibited from commenting on them, furnishing any information on them, or even confirming or denying the existence of such a charge,” EEOC Public Affairs Specialist James Ryan said in an email response to Classic City News.

“Only when and if we file suit are we allowed to furnish any information. At that point, of course, it has become public court record,” he said.

According to the AADM, Maddox believes that she has been targeted and traumatized by her peers over the past two years simply for doing her job and keeping the government accountable.

Maddox was appointed the county’s internal auditor in July 2015. Prior to that she served as management analyst in the Office of Operational Analysis and budget analyst in the Finance Department.

The Mayor and Commission is scheduled to decide on the reappointment of Maddox at a special called meeting on June 15.

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